Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Perpignan too strong for Edinburgh

Latest rugby union news

James Hook kicked 11 points in another impressive performance as Perpignan ended Edinburgh's mini revival with a 31-14 victory in the Heineken Cup.

The Scottish side caused one of the biggest shocks of round one with a victory over Munster, having gone into the match on the back of five consecutive defeats.

But the Catalan giants proved too strong on Sunday and put Alan Solomon's team to the sword with a commanding second-half performance.

Tim Visser's first-half try put the visitors in the ascendancy but they were blown away as Perpignan secured a maximum-points haul with tries from Wandile Mjekevu (two), Joffrey Michel and Justin Purll.

Cornell Du Preez crossed in the closing stages but it was merely a consolation for Edinburgh, who left France empty-handed.

The result has blown Pool Six wide open, with every team having won once in the opening rounds of the European competition.

Edinburgh face Gloucester in the December double-headers and cannot afford another slip-up if they are to reach the last 16.

They made a bright start at Stade Aime Giral and dominated the opening 10 minutes.

A powerful Du Preez break after just two minutes gave Greig Laidlaw the chance to shoot for goal but he was uncharacteristically off-target.

However, Hook, back in his favoured fly-half position, made no mistake to open the scoring on 11 minutes.

Edinburgh continued to cause the hosts problems and they were unfortunate to miss out on a try when Argentinian trialist centre Joaquin Dominguez was adjudged to have had a foot pushed into touch as he dived for the line.

But they were eventually rewarded for their dominance in the opening half with some sublime play from Jack Cuthbert, Nick de Luca and Dominguez laying the foundations for Visser to race clear.

Laidlaw made some amends for the earlier miss by slotting the conversion to hand the Scots a slender 7-3 lead at the break, b ut Perpignan returned an altogether different team following the break.

Hook was at the heart of everything the Blood and Golds did well and giant wings Watisoni Votu and Mjekevu rampaged out wide.

Where Edinburgh had shackled the hosts in the first half, Perpignan burst through contact and ran riot.

Michel crashed over the whitewash after just three minutes of the second half to put the Catalans in the lead and Hook added the extras.

Within a matter of just four minutes Mjekevu then grabbed the first of his double.

With the usual flow of substitutions the game lost its shape midway through the second half but back-rower Purll got the scoreboard ticking with the hosts' third try.

Again they struck in quick succession with Mjekevu completing his brace to secure the all- important bonus-point, and Hook stretching his haul to 11.

To their credit, Edinburgh kept attacking to the bitter end and De Luca led the charge in an encouraging performance in both attack and defence.

He just missed out on a deserved try, but Du Preez did crash over at the death for a score which Laidlaw converted.

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